Monday, September 22, 2008

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Finally after three months, I finished this novel. The experience of reading this novel was like watching a television soap, full drama. Awesome. In fact its been a week since I have finished it and I'm getting a strong craving to read something so absorbing.

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina written in 1870's, is a masterpiece, which is sometimes colorful and at other times boring and depressing but something you can't get rid off. A magnificent drama of vengeance, infidelity, and retribution, Anna Karenina portrays the moving story of people whose emotions conflict with the dominant social mores of their time. Set against the tragic love of Anna and Vronsky, the plight of the melancholy nobleman Constantine Levin unfolds.
Anna, a very sensuous, beautiful, educated and intelligent married woman falls deeply in love with the handsome Vronsky. Her husband is twenty years older to her. She's trapped in a loveless marriage. Anna is an honest and a passionate woman, unlike other women of her high society, who indulge in casual affairs without breaking their marital ties. Anna refuses to live a double and deceitful life and takes the bold step of following her heart's desire and leaves her husband to be with her love Vronsky. She refuses to take a divorce so as to punish herself for being parted with her son. But even after following her heart, she does not feel happy, instead she goes through a vortex of emotions and is in an turmoil where she feels trapped and isolated with guilt, insecurity, frustration, anger and desperation. The character of Anna is such that you can neither love her nor hate her but feel sorry for her.
The co-protagonist, Levin's track is very boring initially but as the novel progresses it becomes interesting, especially after his marriage. The character of Constantine Levin is like a child, who has so many doubts and questions regarding life and its meaning. He is going through a spiritual crisis where he has problems with his faith and his belief in God. He gets suicidal thoughts even after getting all that he wanted. But in the end he finds peace through self realization and not through those books on philosophy in which he tried to find answers to his questions. The novel ends on a happy note with Levin living happily married with his wife Kitty.

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